Prosecutor Says It's OK That Deputies Faked Evidence Reports Because They Didn't Know It Was A Crime

from the we-can't-fix-or-prosecute-stupid dept

Orange County (CA) sheriff’s deputies are the worst at law stuff. If the goal was to hire the stupidest, most plausibly-deniable candidates, the OCSD has hit the mark.

Deputies for this department have managed to achieve the impossible: turn local prosecutors against them by continuously mishandling evidence. Evidence must be managed carefully since it’s the thing prosecutors use to secure convictions. In the hands of deputies, evidence is just something that must be handled, however haphazardly, at whatever point they get around to it.

Since they can’t handle the job of correctly booking evidence, deputies have been faking reports, claiming evidence is booked in when it actually isn’t to avoid getting reprimanded for taking too long to process seized property. One deputy, Bryce Simpson, never did the job correctly. In 74 cases audited, 56 had no evidence booked at all and the other 18 only had some of the evidence booked.

Now, Deputy Bryce Simpson — along with Deputy Joseph Atkinson Jr. — are being given a pass by the special prosecutor presiding over the grand jury convened to decide whether these two slackers/liars should face criminal charges. According to the prosecutor, the deputies did nothing wrong because — wait for it — they didn’t know falsifying official documents was wrong.

Atkinson and Simpson told grand jurors during Mora’s hearing that they had never been trained on a Penal Code section making it illegal to falsely write in their reports that they had booked evidence — typically guns, drugs, money and photos.

Special prosecutor Patrick K. O’Toole told grand jurors that he gave the plea deal to Atkinson and Simpson partially because they had not been informed of the Penal Code section for lying on a official report.

“So I let them plead to the less serious charge because I thought it was justified under the circumstances,” O’Toole told the jurors. “And I think you will recall also their testimony that, not that ignorance of the law is any excuse, but they had never heard of this government code section before, or I don’t think any of these people ever thought the Penal Code section applies to them in what they are doing.”

You have got to be fucking kidding me. Even if we believe the deputies — and there’s no reason we should — there has never been a case ever in any situation where falsifying official documents has been considered the right thing to do. That the deputies may have been unaware these actions could result in criminal charges is beside the point. The mens rea is the knowing falsification of documents, which has never been considered OK under any circumstances. And that’s even when the threat of criminal prosecution isn’t readily apparent.

And their testimony contradicts the Sheriff’s Department spokesperson, who says both deputies received training on the filing of evidence — training that presumably included the warning that faking these documents could result in criminal charges. If they didn’t pay attention to the criminal charge part of the training, that’s hardly an excuse. Ignorance of the law doesn’t help civilians. It shouldn’t aid and abet criminal actions committed by law enforcement officers.

But this is just more in the sad, stupid history of this department, which has abused tax dollars to mold an abusive, moronic thin blue line that can’t even keep crime in check inside of its own department. A few years ago, the sheriff actually claimed deputies were unaware it was wrong (not to mention criminal) to lie in court. The deputies claimed they didn’t know what they could testify about regarding a criminal database, but rather than seek advice from the city’s lawyers, they chose to lie about their knowledge of the system.

No one is being served and/or protected by this group of deliberately obtuse officers. And they’ll continue to be underserved if this is how illegal misconduct is handled by those who are supposed to be seeking justice, rather than shielding officers from the consequences of their actions.

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Comments on “Prosecutor Says It's OK That Deputies Faked Evidence Reports Because They Didn't Know It Was A Crime”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Way to protect the reputation of police

And once again someone makes the ‘there is no-one dumber than a cop’ argument in what should be a mistaken belief that that somehow helps them.

If a cop needs to be specifically told that falsifying reports that can be the difference between someone going to jail or walking free is a bad thing then at best they should be fired and blacklisted from police works and any other jobs that requires even the most basic thinking skills, as they have shown that they are grossly lacking in that area.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Way to protect the reputation of police

Apparently they need to know not that it is wrong, or even illegal, but exactly what parts of the penal code are relevant, in order for them to have done something wrong. But wait, they don’t have to know the law, or even the Constitution. I guess that’s a wrap then.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
anonymouse says:

Re: Re: That's handy

The Sherriff himself out of this joint actually used that same excuse of being ignorant of the law back in the early 2000s when he got caught handing out concealed carry permits as a personal favor.

The history of big crimes in the leadership and operation of OC Sherrifs dept goes back a long ass time. Multiple sherrifs, THE sherriffs not the deputies, from OC Sherriffs dept have gone to jail for various crimes.

Then there was the case where the entire Orange County prosecutors department got recused on a mass murder case because the OC Sherriffs got caught using a secret database that some prosecutors knew about too. They were stupid enough to use the information from the database with a jailhouse informant on a case where they had the guy dead to rights. It was an open shut case. He did it. And yet they still tried to cheat.

OC Sherriffs dept is corrupt as fuck.

Bergman (profile) says:

Re: Re: That's handy

By declaring that police can be excused from crimes because they are ignorant of the law (despite having MORE training in the law than most regular citizens get), they have either made ignorance an excuse for everyone, or they have created a VERY LARGE less privileged class of citizen. A class that comprises some 99.67% of the population!

Which brings us to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to the US Constitution…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bruce C. says:

Conflicts of interest

Since the prosecutor’s office needs a good relationship with the police to do their business, maybe the public defender and prosecutor should switch roles when a police officer is being investigated. The police hate the public defenders already, so nothing is lost there if public defenders do prosecution of police officers.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

When "protecting" the image of the system trumps the truth, perhaps the system needs to fall.

We give them small passes on small things, which leads to needing larger passes for larger things, which leads to a court ruling the officers could not have known making a suspect bend over on the side of the road while they probed their ass in front of traffic would be a violation of their rights.

Cops cry b/c someone allegedly wrote pig on their coffee cup & we’re supposed to care even when we show it was a lie… but somehow we’re not supposed consider that if they were willing to lie about something small to get sympathy they won’t tell larger lies to protect themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does this mentality apply to all government officials in the US?

In other countries, if one gets appointed as a government official, is usually through pretty hard tests that involve not only general laws and principles of your country (like, for example, learning the Constitution), plus also, every law involved in your job, including laws that specify the behaviour a government official should have.

Once you pass the exam, it’s assumed that you know the law. You can’t claim ignorance, as it isn’t only useless, but a clear indication of negligence and proof that you’re unfit for that job.

And yes, you can’t have a post like being a policeman or a firefighter without passing usually pretty grueling exams.

Anonymous Coward says:

Order mandatory training for the whole department

The judge should make every officer in the whole department go through mandatory training in the handling of evidence and in the giving of testimony in court. Require attendance. Require the writing of an essay on each topic, and make sure the officer has to write it personally. To make sure that the most pertinent points get covered, make them answer questions like when is it all right to lie in court.

Put them all in probation until they pass the course.

Hm, is that too harsh? Perhaps other officers could be allowed to take the test straight away and only be made to attend the course if they do not pass. But the whole department seems to need the reminder.

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